White Owners Of Mexican Food Truck Shut Down After Being Accused Of Cultural Appropriation

Photo: Ernesto Andrade

Kali Wilgus and Liz “LC” Connelly thought that they had realized their dream when they opened Kooks Burritos in Portland Oregon.  They were even more excited when the local newspaper Williamette Week decided to do a feature article on their new business.  The two women recounted how they watched Mexican women making tortillas on a trip to Baja California and adopted what they saw.  That admission however led to furious accusations that the two white women were guilty of “cultural appropriation.”  They eventually shutdown their food truck.

The women said that the Mexican women would not share their recipes but that they would watch the “tortilla ladies” through the window to learn the process.  They were told the basic ingredients and watched the other women at work.  They then experimented with their own recipes until they came up with tortillas as good as they experienced in Mexico.

The led to the chorus of outrage of people like Jagger Blaec of The Portland Mercury , who denounced the women as cultural appropriators. Blaec wrote that :they colonized this style of food when they decided to ‘pick the brains of every tortilla lady there in the worst broken Spanish ever.'”

This week in white nonsense, two white women—Kali Wilgus and Liz “LC” Connely—decided it would be cute to open a food truck after a fateful excursion to Mexico.

. . . So let’s recap the story thus far: These two white women went to Mexico, ate tacos, and then decided they would just take what the locals clearly didn’t want to give them. If that wasn’t bad enough, they decided to pack up all their stolen intellectual property and repackage it in one of the few places where such a business could plausibly work: Portland, Oregon.

. . . Because of Portland’s underlying racism, the people who rightly own these traditions and cultures that exist are already treated poorly. These appropriating businesses are erasing and exploiting their already marginalized identities for the purpose of profit and praise.

This seems a bit over-wrought and I certainly do not get the cultural appropriation angle.  I am part Italian and many have pick up on the cuisine of my ancestors.  I view the adoption of Italian dishes with pride.  It is true that the Mexican women did not want to share their recipe but these Oregon women wanted to learn to make great tortillas and did so by watching the masters and then experimenting at home.  The closure of their business, while celebrated by Blaec and others, is a sad end for two women who merely wanted to make good food.

80 thoughts on “White Owners Of Mexican Food Truck Shut Down After Being Accused Of Cultural Appropriation”

  1. When will we all see one another just as people? Jagger Blaec and others are focusing on these ladies gender and ethnicity. That seems racist? Tomato’s are a new world food, egg noodles are Chinese. Spaghetti is Italian. “Cultural appropriation”?!, wtf is Taco Bell? Can we all just grow up?

  2. Not sure I can buy into the idea of cultural appropriation . No one owns a style of food, music, clothing, etc. , and all around the world people blend/adapt ingredients, techniques, instruments, rhythms. Is a latke not “really” Jewish/yiddish because potatoes are not originally from eastern Europe? Is a DNA test required before someone makes a taco, stir fry, or linguini?

  3. I think this is ridiculous. Because one idiot needed to write something to keep his job 2 women were left out of job. I ate at a place where American girls tried to serve Russian food and it was horrible. I didn’t go around accusing them of stealing recipe from Russian people. 90% of the restaurants get their recipes from somewhere else. Let’s close all the restaurants and food trucks around.

  4. These lunatic protestors must be braindead if they think the Americans stole the tortilla recipe.

    Corn tortillas have 2 ingredients. Masa harina and water.

    Seriously, this cultural appropriation is stupidity on steroids.

  5. Are white folks going to be allowed to eat at Taco Bell anymore? What about non-Germans eating hamburgers? Germany gets credit for the hamburger.

    Will radio stations be allowed to play Rock AND Soul? How will we censor movies like ‘Saturday Night Fever’, which featured Kool and the Gang AND the Bee Gees? Help!

    Whoever these idiot protestors are should be thankful anyone is still working so they can pay taxes to support those with nothing better to do than cry over nonsense. Was the Burrito invented in Mejico? Isn’t it a US invented food? It doesn’t take a genius to wrap a bit of bread/pita/hotcake around a bunch of food in the middle. It does take some good ingredients and skill to make it taste good.

    How did the shitkids become so stupid?

  6. Liberals are now eating each other, who needs an awesome burrito in Portland? Obviously not Liberals. I’m a mixed DNA person myself, what foods am I allowed to cook? Will this start applying to music in Portland? No more whites in a lot of musical styles….. I thought Obama was going to Unite us and make us stronger, instead we are more bitter than ever.

  7. Yes, if the government says women can “feel” like men and vice versa and be treated like their non biological gender, anything goes and they could have a great discrimination lawsuit. Especially in the liberal domain that is Portland.

    1. Don’t bring your own transphobia into this discussion which is about FOOD, not your own hatred of transgender people.

      IMO this (the food truck people) is not “cultural appropriation”. It’s simply what people do with food.

      BTW, transgender people don’t simply “feel” like the gender they weren’t assigned. There are actual brain differences. Educate yourself, if you care to. Or continue being ignorant while transgender people are being assaulted by idiots like yourself, or killed, or bullied into suicide daily. But don’t pretend you know anything about transgender people and quit using them as red herrings.

      That’s, of course, if you don’t want to look like an ass. If you want to continue, keep doing it.

      1. You brought up the transgender part, not Kenneth. There was recently a female who identified as black, even though she was white as a ghost and a senator from Mass who identifies as American Indian. These days folks seem to identify as pretty much anything under the sun, so why not Mexican? Leave YOUR trans-phobia at home please.

  8. You can make liberals eat their own bs so easily. All these women need to do is say that they “feel Mexican” and that will have a serious lawsuit to smash on these lunatics.

  9. In cooking and Cuisine there is NO SUCH THING as cultural appropriation. It is a common practice for chefs in all countries to travel to, and often time copy recipes from other countries. There is nothing wrong with what they did. The people who object to it are uneducated. These women did not steal anything.

    Bobby Flay American Trained at the French Culinary Institute, Specializes in Mexican, and southwest Cooking.
    Masaharu Morimoto Japanese received practical training in sushi and traditional Kaiseki cuisine in Hiroshima. Influenced by Western cooking styles.
    Marc Forgione American, Went to France to work under under Michel Guerard in Eugenie les Bains.
    Jose Garces American Owns an Argentine Steakhouse in Washington DC.
    Rick Bayless American who has traveled all over Mexico and has had TV shows where he showcased many of the recipes he got from there.
    Mario Batali American Specializes in Italian food has used recipes he got from Italy.
    Emeril Lagasse American Specializes in Creole and Cajun foods.
    Cat Cora American Specializes in Greek and Mediterranean foods.

    There is a whole style of cooking in Japan that is based on American Food (yoshoku).

    This is not cultural appropriation, it is cultural appreciation.

    1. Yep. We’d have to shut down so many things in NYC if we applied that standard here. We’ve got Yemenis selling bagels and knishes from carts. Indians making pizza. Mexicans cooking Italian food. Latinas waitressing in Irish Pubs. Non-Japanese sushi chefs. I would think this is basically a good thing, exposing people to different cultures and foods. Maybe some white people might even decide that they want to eat “Real Mexican burritos” after this and buy some from a Mexican restaurant run by a Mexican person or even decide to travel to Mexico and seek out some of these “Burrito ladies” and see what they are really missing.

    2. My God!! You can get the recipe on a bag of miso meal and make 🌮 tacos ! I don’t call it stealing when a yankee makes pintos and cornbread!😱,well tries to !!

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